Smiles for miles: Husband and wife pacers inspire at Cellcom Green Bay Marathon

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - An elite and determined group of runners is getting ready for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon. They're pacers who help marathon runners reach their goals--down to the second.

Carrie Miller and Paul Miller

It takes a special personality to be a pacer. Action 2 News met up with a husband and wife pace team that has what it takes.

Meet Carrie Miller: "I am pacing the 3:55 full marathon."

Meet Paul Miller: "I'm pacing the six hour full marathon."

They're man and wife ...

"I'm probably the more serious runner in the family, so I tend to go a little bit faster," Carrie says.

But miles apart in style.

"We call it the 'party pace.' You know--fast in the front, party in the back."

They have the same goal on race day.

"One is holding a consistent time and finishing within a minute," Carrie says. "But the second part, which is just as important, if not more, is having a positive, motivating personality for your group."

They are part of the largest team of pacers in the history of the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon, May 18-19. There are 73 pacers between the full and half marathons. They lead runners either 13.1 miles or the full 26.2 miles.

They are cheerleaders who want their runners to nail their times within a minute.

"Really, it's like having your own coach," Carrie says.

Paul says, "At the beginning of a race, you'd be with these people, and after 10 minutes or so, they go, 'I can't go this slow. I'm outta here.'

"And we're like, OK! And then fast forward four hours, I'm like oh hi, how are you? And they're like, 'yeah, I'm back!'"

The Millers take pride in making the race fun. Part of that is shifting minds away from aching legs and tired bodies.

"That first year, we had three runners when we started. By the time I crossed the finish line that first year, we had 24 people with us," Paul says.

He continues, "There's so much great, great, great energy in the six hour pace group. And yet at the same time, sometimes when we catch people, it's not great energy. Because sometimes we get dead people walking."

Paul has the gift of gab. He's kind of like Norm from Cheers. Everyone knows his name.

"By the end of the race, he will know everybody's name, where they're from, how many races they've run. He'll be like a kind of mini-celebrity crossing the finish line," Carrie says.

Anyone can join the Millers. They're easy to spot. They wear neon green. Paul holds his patent-pending pace racer signs.

"This is the luxury version, like you said. Most pacers run with a wooden dowel and a laminated sign stapled to it. But we wanted to take it up a few notches," Carrie says.

The Millers set the pace with a smile for every mile.

"If we get the happiest pacers, then we get the happiest racers," Paul says.

The pace team is an experienced one. One pacer ran 52 full marathons and 52 half marathons in 2018.

CLICK HERE for the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon website.